TOP Talk

Unwrapping a Beautiful Holiday Media Placement

Posted December 12, 2014 By Marian Hughes

Topics: Thought Leadership, Earned Media Relations


Image Credit: Created using Canva;

It’s that time of year. Everywhere you turn, a different media outlet is featuring a story on great gifts for the holidays. Whether they be stocking stuffer ideas, gifts under $50, or gifts for tech and gadget lovers, there seems to be a gift guide for everything and everyone.

If you have never done holiday product placement before, there is a clear method to the gift product placement madness. Since we are in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season, we thought there was no better time than now to “unwrap” the holiday gift guide process for consumer and consumer-tech brands to help you be even more prepared for next year’s holiday planning. Because believe it or not, it’s never too early to start. Here are our tips:

Start Planning Early

For best results, you should start thinking about holiday planning shortly after ringing in the New Year. Yes, you heard me right, January! While you won’t be picking up the phone and pitching then, you should start building a plan and setting deadlines to ensure you have a working product and images ready to show the media in late May.

Save Your Spot

Many brands consider the holiday-themed media events like those organized by New Product Events well worth their money as they bring interested consumer media to a central location to see and learn about new holiday products. It’s a time- and cost-efficient way to reach the right media. But the trick is reserving your spot before the events sell out. New Product Holiday Events are held in June and July and typically sell out in Q1. If you put off thinking about the holidays until April, chances are you’ll likely miss out on this face-to-face media briefing opportunity.

Package Your Story

Most editors compartmentalize their gift guides into subsets to make them more useful for their readers. For instance, they will run a feature on gifts for gamers, another one on gifts for music lovers, and another one on cool tech gifts. To ensure your product has the best chance of being considered, think about what gift category your product best fits, and weave that messaging into your pitches and media materials. New products will always get preferential treatment, as editors take pride in discovering the hot new gifts of the season. If your gift is not new, consider the fresh angle you could give it this year to capture reporters’ attention.

Editors also like to touch and feel products as they evaluate them. If the price point of your gift is right, consider sending out as many products as your budget will permit. If that’s not a possibility, think through a more affordable way to showcase your product. That could mean a New Products event, a desk side briefing tour, or a Google Hangouts demo. Don’t be afraid to think outside the gift box.

Be All Wrapped Up and Ready to Go in June

In a perfect world, a brand is ready to start pitching gift guide editors at long-lead publications by June. That’s when gift guide editors at long-lead publications are beginning their hunt for great product ideas. Your Web site and all of your press materials and images should be updated, finalized and ready to share with the media by this point. You also should be able to list where your product can be purchased. If it’s not available to a national audience either through a Web site or a retail store, don’t expect national coverage.

To secure a list of gift specific media targets, Gift List Media has a comprehensive database of editors and bloggers available for purchase who consider products for gift guides. Cision also offers a gift guide editor/blogger list. Reviewing the editorial calendars of the publications you are targeting is also be an option to identify appropriate gift guide opportunities.

If you are seeking broadcast coverage, and your budget permits, this is also the time to start keeping your eyes open for relevant Satellite Media Tour packages to participate in during the holidays.

Like every media assignment, followup is crucial. Throughout the summer you should plan to connect with your target media contacts by phone, email or social media to ensure your information reaches the right hands and is being considered.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving: Short-Leads

As said about so many aspects of life, holiday pitching is a marathon not a sprint, and you must reserve energy and budget for pitching the short-lead media, beginning in late summer/early fall. While the Gift List is helpful at identifying numerous short-lead media contacts, we find a little outside research can be instrumental in securing broadcast coverage. Many broadcast gift segments are developed by contributors to television shows. In addition to pitching relevant producers, it can be equally as effective to directly pitch contributors. Watch the shows you are targeting, become familiar with their contributors and their style and develop your pitches accordingly.

Better Late Than Never

Let’s face it, various circumstances may prevent a brand from being ready to pitch for the holidays on at the beginning of June. But don’t worry if you’re a little behind schedule, that doesn’t mean you should pack up for the season. Rather, readjust your goals according to your schedule. If you miss out on the long-lead opportunities, there is still plenty of time to reach the short-lead, online editors and bloggers in the fall. How late is too late to pitch? Your window of placement opportunities closes a little more each day between September and Thanksgiving. The longer you wait, the less opportunities you’ll have.

Don’t Forget the Bow!

Great media placements are a beautiful thing, but they become even more beautiful when they are tied directly to sales. Be sure to set the right web and social analytics processes in place to measure how each piece of holiday media coverage drives visits to the website, online sales, and social shares. If one story does particularly well, and your budget permits, you might consider syndicating that story to extend its reach even further and make it a gift that keeps on giving.

Unwrap the process of holiday product media relations this year, and wrap up even more winning product coverage in the seasons to come.

Marian Hughes

About Marian Hughes

Challenging the status quo. I love stepping back and analyzing a PR program to determine if there’s a better way to move our clients closer to their goals. I'm constantly scouting out innovative new approaches, tools and technology – anything that holds the potential to really deliver. And, when I discover one with merit, there's nothing more rewarding than getting up to speed, putting it into action and generating big results – that, to me, is hitting it out of the park!